They’re growns up and they’re growns up and they’re growns up.
I became a real Mavericks fan somewhere in the midst of attending games on a "Best Opponents" semi-season ticket package during the ’97-’98 season. I was single and had my first job in the post-college "real world" making something like $23,000. With all that cash to throw around, a few of us bought a ticket package featuring the best teams the Mavs were going to play that season. That was a wise marketing ploy back when selling their own product wasn’t so easy. To be honest, my motivation had more to do with getting a ticket to the game against the Bulls during Mike’s last season in Chicago. I wanted to see him play in person once before he retired. I never imagine I’d fall so hard for Don Carter’s sad little team, but I did.
The ’97-’98 version of the Mavericks featured an early season coaching change (from vaunted Bulls assistant Jim Cleamons to then-GM Don Nelson) and only one real player of note: a young Michael Finley (unless you count A.C. Green, who I also got to see break the NBA record for consecutive games played). We had a lot of fun watching that team, devoting much attention to screaming unkind words at visiting celebs like Karl Malone, Shaq, and Reggie Miller (and, of course, at the uber-useless Shawn Bradley). Those Mavs only won 20 games, but several of them happened to be home Ws against some of the best teams in the NBA, which worked out well for us and our little ticket package. The highlight was a crazy come-from-behind OT win over Jordan and the Bulls, who went on to win their final title that year.
Even pre-Cuban, pre-Dirk, it seemed something was afoot in Reunion Arena, and I believe that was the beginning of the team you’ll see taking on Shaq, Wade, and Used Car Salesman of the Century Pat Riley in the next couple of weeks.